UNSC Pillar of Autumn
|UNSC Pillar of Autumn|
Titanium-A battleplate (2 meters thick)
December 1, 2510 
Battle of Installation 04 (2552)
Captain Jacob Keyes
- Thel 'Vadamee: "There was only one ship."
- Prophet of Truth: "One? Are you sure?"
- Thel 'Vadamee: "Yes. They called it the Pillar of Autumn."
- —Conversation between 'Vadamee and the High Prophet of Regret in The Heretic.
The UNSC Pillar of Autumn, (hull classification symbol C-709), was a Halcyon-class light cruiser in the UNSC Navy. It was informally referred to as the Autumn, and, in some cases, the Pillar.
Prior to the Fall of Reach the Pillar of Autumn was selected to support Operation: RED FLAG, a SPARTAN-II mission to capture Covenant leaders. Captain Jacob Keyes was placed in command. The operation was forestalled by the Covenant assault on Reach; the cruiser carried some of the few UNSC survivors and fled the system having lost most of its intended SPARTAN-II passengers.
The cruiser was guided to the Soell system by the AI Cortana. There it was engaged by a Covenant fleet guarding Installation 04. Keyes crash-landed the ship on the installation where the surviving crew continued the battle against the Covenant, and later, the Flood. The ship's sole remaining combat-effective SPARTAN-II, John-117, was forced to destabilize the Autumn's fusion reactor, destroying both the ship and the ringworld, to prevent the Installation from being fired.
 Human-Covenant War
It saw action during the Battle of Arcadia against the Covenant in February 2531. The cruiser was heavily damaged engaging two CCS-class battlecruisers, though it helped destroy one. The cruiser contributed several experimental M145D Rhinos to the ground fighting, allowing personnel of the UNSC Spirit of Fire to take down an energy barrier.
The cruiser was decommissioned with the remaining Halcyon-class light cruisers, but was reactivated as the war worsened. The Pillar of Autumn was refitted in 2550 to serve in a conflict near Zeta Doradus.
 A chariot for Spartans
By 2552, it was obvious to the UNSC that the war could not be ended with conventional military action. A desperate plan, known as Operation: RED FLAG was conceived to end the war by capturing Covenant leaders and forcing the enemy to the negotiating table. A colony world would be sacrificed to the Covenant to allow SPARTAN-II commandos to board and disable a Covenant ship, locate the Covenant homeworld, and abduct the targets. The Pillar of Autumn was selected on August 25 by the AI Cortana to disable an enemy ship and deliver the Spartans aboard; the ship was selected for the Halcyon-class's durability, despite its class's usual lack-luster offensive capabilities. Command of the ship was given to Captain Jacob Keyes.
The cruiser received another refit for the new mission, including a state-of-the-art fusion power plant and improved weaponry. Cortana was transferred to handle the shakedown.
 Fall of Reach
- Main article: Fall of Reach
The Pillar of Autumn was prepared to deploy on August 30. However, before it could depart the Epsilon Eridani system it was recalled to Reach; the UNSC fleet was mustering in preparation for an imminent Covenant attack on the planet. However, Cortana remained in control as the ship's normally assigned AI was not yet operational.
It was hoped an opportunity to capture an enemy ship would present itself, however the course of the battle forced the Spartans to deploy on other missions. Blue Team went to Reach's Gamma Station to enforce the Cole Protocol, while Red Team went planetside to reinforce the Orbital defense generators. While the cruiser performed well, the battle was lost as the Orbital defense platforms fell silent. There was only time to recover the remnants of Blue Team, John-117 and the clinically dead Linda-058, before the ship was forced to flee the system.
During the battle over Reach, Pillar of Autumn attacked and destroyed a Covenant "sniper ship" in single combat. This prototype vessel was responsible for the destruction of many powerful UNSC warships. The unlikely victory of the Autumn, for a brief moment, left her as one of the most successful and resilient ships in the Navy. However, the ship was heavily damaged in the fight and its main reactor was rendered inoperable.
At some point during the conflict, the Pillar of Autumn returned to drydock at the Aszod ship-breaking facility to rescue any survivors on the planet and retrieve a package. Shortly before the ship fled the system, the remnants of Noble Team were tasked with delivering a fragment of Cortana's data chip to the Autumn. The ship left drydock immediately afterward. It was nearly destroyed by a Covenant battlecruiser before it could take off, but the Covenant ship was destroyed by SPARTAN-B312 with an Onager MAC.
The Pillar of Autumn was supposed to have made a random Slipspace jump in accordance with the Cole Protocol. However, Cortana surreptitiously guided the ship to the Soell system and, ultimately, to Installation 04 instead. The AI used coordinates obtained from two Forerunner artifacts: one on Sigma Octanus IV, and one underneath Reach. The Covenant pursued along the cruiser's exit vector and arrived at Soell first with a battle group of CCS-class battlecruisers.
 Battle of Installation 04
- Main article: Battle of Installation 04
The Pillar of Autumn was almost immediately engaged upon arriving at Threshold. The Prophet of Stewardship, who feared stray plasma torpedo fire might damage the holy artifact, ordered the boarding and capture of the cruiser. Fleet Master Thel 'Vadamee ignored this order and returned fire aggressively. Even so, the Autumn was able to destroy four ships and damage the Truth and Reconciliation before boarders disabled its Magnetic Accelerator Cannon with an antimatter charge.
Captain Keyes ordered the crew to abandon ship. John-117 was given Cortana for safekeeping, and ordered to keep the AI out of enemy hands. The crew left the ship for the ring in whatever craft were available and the cryo pods were jettisoned. Keyes directed the Pillar of Autumn on a course to crash land on the ring. The Covenant finally began hitting the ship with plasma torpedoes, but the cruiser survived the landing reasonably intact, though damaged beyond repair. The survivors transferred supplies from the ship to Alpha Base.
The release of the Flood added an unexpected dimension to the battle. Monitor 343 Guilty Spark was preparing to fire the Installation in response to the outbreak; in conjunction with the entire Halo Array this would wipe out all sentient life in the galaxy. John-117 and Cortana returned to the Pillar of Autumn to destroy the ring by detonating the still-functioning fusion reactors. An attempt to activate the cruiser's self-destruct from the bridge failed due to 343 Guilty Spark's interference. The Spartan was forced to manually destabilize the reactors with tactical ordnance.
John-117 and Cortana escaped the subsequent detonation and the ring aboard a Longsword fighter still docked in Launch Bay 7. The Pillar of Autumn exploded moments after their escape, destroying Instalation 04.
The Pillar of Autumn was roughly 43 years old at the time of its escape from Reach and later destruction on Installation 04. It was a cruiser of the Halcyon-class, the smallest cruisers in the UNSC Fleet. Like other Halcyon ships, the Autumn was equipped with a honeycombed internal bracing structure that allowed it to function even after sustaining critical levels of damage.
 Power plant
Prior to being refit for the Spartan mission, the Pillar of Autumn was equipped with Mark II Hanley-Messer deuterium fusion engines, which supplied only 10% the power of the standard 2552 UNSC Navy reactor. The Pillar of Autumn was refitted with a set of improved nuclear fusion engines that featured two smaller reactors around a larger one, which were capable of boosting the overall power output by 300% for a short time if needed.
Fusion reactors generate extreme heat which must be removed in order for them to remain active without overheating. The Autumn's overhauled reactors were an especially severe case of this. Usually, the excess heat was conducted to a chemical agent which would then vent into space. However, the Autumn's upgraded specifications also included an upgraded cooling system, which featured a "laser-induced optical slurry of ions chilled to near-absolute zero", which was far more efficient than the typical method and removed the reliance on expendable chemical temperature-control substances. In essence, the amount of excess heat removed by the new system increased as the reactors' output did. This self-regulating and self-cooling power plant was critical in combat since it virtually eliminated a commander's concerns about overheating and slagging a ship's engines.
The Pillar of Autumn's reactors were able to be overloaded by explosives, either grenades or rockets, destroying the vulnerable vent cores. Once these were destroyed, the reactors began to go critical, resulting in temperatures of over 100,000,000 degrees and a thermonuclear explosion large enough to tear apart a Halo installation.
Prior to being refit for the Spartan mission, the Pillar of Autumn had just one regular MAC gun and six Archer missile pods. The upgraded Pillar of Autumn received extensive refits, including several to its weapons systems. Eventually, it was host to a very powerful armament; far in excess of the original Halcyon-class ships.
- With extra power capacitors and power recycling systems, the Pillar of Autumn's MAC gun could fire three consecutive shots per charge.
- The MAC gun fired lighter projectiles compared to most ship grade MACs, but these rounds worked much like shredder rounds. Each charge was able to fire 3 rounds.
- 300 M58 Archer missile pods which were arranged in thirty columns and ten rows. Each pod contained 26 individual devices, equaling 7800 missiles
- Four Shiva-class nuclear missile, one loaded onto a remote-controlled Longsword interceptor, and three ship-launched.
- Forty M910 PDNs with overlapping fields of fire for point defense against single ships. Two of these cannons were later salvaged by the surviving UNSC personnel for Alpha Base.
 Engine room
The Pillar of Autumn's engine room was a large, three-deck high chamber allowing access to the fusion engine core. Side passages allowed for movement from the bottom deck all the way up to the catwalks on the third. The manifolds into the cores were suspended above the second deck. Controls on the third retracted these manifolds, exposing a vent that led directly into the core. It was using this method to expose the core via the vents that the John-117 ultimately destroyed the ship and Installation 04. This room is the largest room in the Pillar of Autumn with the exception of the hangar bay and the "leap of faith" room.
- Airlock 31, 32: Lifeboats destroyed by the Covenant to make way for a Boarding Craft.
- Airlock 51: Lifeboat was destroyed by unseen Covenant artillery as it departed from the airlock.
- Airlock 52, 53, 61, 62, 63: Lifeboats managed to make it out of the vessel.1
1Airlock 61: the Master Chief, Cortana, nine other Marines on board and the lifeboat pilot.
- 830 Marines-1 ODST Battalion, 1 Marine Battalion (79th Infantry)
- Combat Team Alpha
- Combat Team November
- Combat Team Sierra
- Combat Team Victor
- Fire Team Charlie
- Fire Team Zulu
- Fifth Platoon
- Fourteenth Platoon
- Twenty-Second Tactical
 Behind the scenes
- The Pillar of Autumn was modeled by former Bungie employee Adam Crokett.
- In Halo: The Fall of Reach, the description of the Pillar of Autumn is considerably different from its Halo: Combat Evolved incarnation. The bridge is described as having a command chair and a curved viewport; in Halo: Combat Evolved, this chair is absent and the window consists of several flat sections. The novel also describes the bridge as being extremely cramped, with only a meter of space between the command chair and the other stations, while in the game, the bridge is clearly more spacious. According to the novel, there is also an elevator leading directly from the engine room to the bridge. In the game, the engineering and the bridge are on the same level, and there are no doors which may belong to an elevator adjoining the bridge. In addition, the engine room is described as being "hexagonal", while in the game, it consists of two vaguely rectangular chambers with the engine core in the middle. The ship is also described as having rotating centrifuges to generate artificial gravity; no rotating sections are present in the game, unless they are located within the hull.
- The Pillar of Autumn's was approximately 1.17 km long, a reference to John-117. The ship's length is exaggerated in the final level of Halo: Combat Evolved to a length of three kilometers, likely to add urgency and suspense to the escape sequence.
- In Halo: Combat Evolved, the ship's emblem is the Marathon logo. In Halo: Reach, the ship's emblem is retconned into the Seventh Column logo. In Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, the Seventh Column emblem is replaced by a similar-looking gear, since the Seventh Column is an affiliate of Bungie.
- The bulletin board just outside the bridge of the ship contains a number of amusing clips, some throwbacks to Marathon. These can be examined on the first level of Halo: Combat Evolved. The board has a flier for a missing cat called Jonesy. This is a reference to the Alien movies, where the cat's name was Jonesy. The board also has a flier telling Marines to 'Keep it Clean', a quote later used in Halo 3: ODST.
- The re-textured bulletin board in Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary includes a classic Internet gag image of a "cat found" poster mistaking an opossum for a cat, as well as a poster labelled "Dark Planetoid Rising", featuring the Forerunner planet Requiem as it appeared in the Legendary ending to Halo 3.
- During the brief cutscene in Halo 2 where the Pillar of Autumn escapes, it is portrayed by a Marathon-class cruiser, rather than a Halcyon.
- In its appearance in Halo: Reach, the ship went through many changes, including that the Marathon symbol is replaced by the Seventh Column symbol, and the bridge has been shrunken to a smaller scale.
- The Pillar of Autumn is available as a prop for Xbox 360 Avatars.
Concept art of the Pillar of Autumn in Halo: Reach.
The outline of Halo Combat Evolved's The Maw level.
The Pillar of Autumn taking plasma impacts at the Battle of Installation 04.
The crashed Autumn in the desert of Alpha Halo, seen in the level The Maw.
The Pillar of Autumn's bridge, as seen in Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary.
The Pillar of Autumn's ship emblem as seen in Halo: Combat Evolved. In Halo: Reach, the emblem was replaced by the Seventh Column logo.
 List of appearances
- Halo: The Fall of Reach (First appearance)
- Halo: Combat Evolved
- Halo: The Flood
- Halo: First Strike
- Halo 2
- Halo Wars: Genesis
- Halo Wars
- Halo: Evolutions - Essential Tales of the Halo Universe
- The Mona Lisa (motion comic only)
- Halo Legends
- Halo: Reach
- Halo: Fall of Reach - Invasion
- ^ On page 274 of Halo: The Fall of Reach, it is stated that the Pillar of Autumn's refit power plant consists of a single main reactor linked to two secondary ones; this arrangement is referenced again later on when Cortana gives a damage assessment of the ship to Captain Keyes. However, in Halo: Combat Evolved, it is implied that each of the four exhaust manifolds is linked to an individual fusion reactor, each of which is destroyed by John-117 in the final level. This page follows the information given in Halo: The Fall of Reach, as the novel describes the reactor system in more detail.
- ^ a b c d e f g Halo Waypoint: Data Drop 5
- ^ a b c d e Halo: The Fall of Reach, page 274
- ^ a b Halo Wars, campaign level Arcadia City
- ^ Halo: Combat Evolved: Sybex Official Strategies & Secrets, page 60
- ^ Bungie.net: Bungie Weekly Update 01.29.10
- ^ Halo: The Flood, page 13
- ^ Halo: Reach, campaign level The Pillar of Autumn (objective description)
- ^ Halo: First Strike, page 103
- ^ a b c Halo: The Fall of Reach, page 238, ("The Pillar of Autumn is forty-three years old," Cortana said. "Halcyon-class ships were the smallest vessel ever to receive the cruiser designation. It is approximately one-third the tonnage of the Marathon-class cruiser currently in service."
- ^ Halo Wars, level Dome of Light
- ^ a b Halo: The Fall of Reach, page 238
- ^ Halo: The Fall of Reach, page 238 ("...At the time, deemed unnecessarily over massed and costly due to series of cross-bracing and interstitial honeycombs... Halcyon-class ships, however, have a reputation for being virtually indestructible. Reports indicate these ships being operational even after sustaining breaches to all compartments and losing ninety percent of their armor.")
- ^ Halo: The Fall of Reach, Epilogue, page 336
- ^ Halo: Combat Evolved, level The Maw
- ^ Halo: The Fall of Reach, pages 274-275 ("Captain Keyes mentions performing a fly-by inspection of the starboard shuttle bay and counting Archer missile pods thirty across and ten down, making for 300 Archer Missile Pods. The next sentence then reads "Each pod held dozens of missiles.")
- ^ Halo: The Fall of Reach, Chapter 29, page 275 ("In response to Captain Keyes' question about the small single ships in the launch bay, Lieutenant Hikowa states, "Yes Sir. One of the Longswords is equipped with a Shiva-class nuclear missile; it can be remote piloted. We also have three HAVOC Warheads on board").
- ^ Halo: The Flood (2010), page 233
- ^ Adam Crockett: Resume
- ^ a b Halo: The Fall of Reach, page 277
- ^ halo.bungie.org: The Pillar of Autumn Conundrum
- ^ Halo: Waypoint: Halo Avatar Collection - January